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Maria Kuhns Named Outstanding Senior at 2019 Celebration of Excellence

Maria Kuhns, an agribusiness management major from Mason, Illinois, was named Outstanding Senior at CAFNR’s 2019 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday, April 11.

Kuhns has served as the MFA Undergraduate Research Scholar in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics since 2015. She is the president of the MU Agribusiness Club and part of the Sigma Alpha sorority. Kuhns was the Executive-in-Residence intern from August 2017 to May 2018. She was named CAFNR’s Outstanding Sophomore in 2017, served as a CAFNR Summer Welcome Peer Counselor, and was a past Litton Leadership Scholar and CAFNR Dickinson Scholar.

“I’ve known Maria since her senior year of high school and have had the privilege of working with her since her first semester at Mizzou,” said Joe Parcell, director, Division of Applied Social Sciences. “Maria and her mother visited my office prior to her committing to Mizzou. During her first visit, I saw a confident young woman eager to learn and perform at the collegiate level. I quickly committed an undergraduate research assistantship to her, and I have never regretted that decision. It is without question that Maria has spent her four years at Mizzou contributing her time and talents to CAFNR. Maria has remained as a student employee in the department of agricultural economics and later the Division of Applied Social Sciences for all four years. Maria has contributed to program and division efforts through research projects, recruitment efforts and alumni relations.”

Colton Spencer Named Outstanding Junior at 2019 Celebration of Excellence

Colton Spencer, an agricultural education and leadership major from Aurora, Missouri, was named Outstanding Junior at CAFNR’s 2019 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday, April 11.

Spencer is the president of CAFNR True Tigers, a CAFNR Ambassador, a student worker for CAFNR Career Services, and has served as a CAFNR Summer Welcome Peer Counselor. He is a past president of Missouri FFA, past president and past national board of director of the Heart of America Gelbvieh Association and American Gelbvieh Junior Association, and owner/operator of Spencer Cattle Co.

“Colton’s interpersonal communication skills and ability to positively impact others are two of his other greatest skills,” said Matt Arri, coordinator of CAFNR Career Services. “During the summer of 2018, Colton served as a Summer Welcome Peer Counselor and part of his job was to welcome new students and their parents. Many times, Colton took it upon himself to sit down with several families in our lobby and would strike up conversations with each family member and was quite skilled at making everyone feel at home. In addition, Colton also assumed a frontline position as a student speaker and conducted numerous presentations about CAFNR to our new students and their families. Colton is well respected among his fellow students, by our faculty, and by our staff due to his strong academic performance, his strong work ethic, his outstanding leadership abilities, and his stellar interpersonal communication skills. Colton is truly a role model and is mature beyond his years.”

Sydnee Mason Named Outstanding Sophomore at 2019 Celebration of Excellence

Sydnee Mason, an agricultural education and leadership major from Marshall, Missouri, was named Outstanding Sophomore at CAFNR’s 2019 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday, April 11.

Mason is a student recruitment intern in the CAFNR Office of Academic Programs, in addition to serving as the CAFNR Ambassadors team leader and as an outreach specialist with Missouri Farmers Care. She served as the Missouri State FFA Secretary from April 2017-April 2018. She is also involved at Mizzou with Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Mizzou Collegiate Farm Bureau, CAFNR Student Council and the CAFNR True Tigers.

“Sydnee leads with her heart. I’ve never met someone as passionate as Sydnee about making Missouri agriculture better. I’ve seen her lead others working with Missouri Farmers Care to advance the Agri-Ready county designations. Sydnee traveled to each potential Agri-Ready county several times to listen and address concerns from legislators, staff, and producers in counties across Missouri… Sydnee radiated positivity, spoke to her farm values, and worked with producers, consumers, and legislators to build a common purpose of bettering rural Missouri,” said John Tummons, assistant teaching professor, Agricultural Education and Leadership. “Sydnee is a great listener, and she uses listening as a strategy to transform others. She is genuine, leads with her values, and has an uncanny ability to develop rapport among a wide variety of people. Just last week, I was sitting in my office with a prospective student. Our meeting had gone long, but Sydnee knew the prospective student and visited with him for 30 minutes. Only after I returned to my calendar did I see Sydnee gave up her advising appointment with me to work with the prospective student – this is an everyday example of how Sydnee is making agriculture great by paying it forward.”

Paxton Dahmer Named Outstanding Freshman at 2019 Celebration of Excellence

Paxton Dahmer, an agricultural education and leadership major from Nevada, Missouri, was named Outstanding Freshman at CAFNR’s 2019 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday, April 11.

Dahmer is the 2018-19 Missouri FFA State President, in addition to being involved at CAFNR in Collegiate Farm Bureau, Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow, CAFNR True Tigers, and as an Agricultural Education and Leadership Ambassador. As part of his responsibilities as Missouri FFA State President, he has traveled to high schools to facilitate workshops devoted to leadership development and delivered remarks to the Missouri House of Representatives.

“In my short time with Paxton, he has always exhibited the highest integrity. His word is consistent with his actions and reflects the exemplary value system that is needed in the world today. He has the respect of his peers and adults alike. He has a positive attitude that is contagious and a mature behavior that is exemplary without exception. I would trust him explicitly to make mature decisions,” said Keith Dietzschold, executive secretary, MO FFA Association, and supervisor, Northwest District, Agricultural Education, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Paxton has the capacity for getting the job done. As his supervisor during this state officer year, I have always been able to count on Paxton to accomplish the goal. Regardless of the time or effort required, he would always meet expectations. I am sure his professors have found the same consistent effort and results during his short time at the University.”

Ed Coe and Doug Randall Honored at St. Louis Academy of Science Awards

Two CAFNR researchers were honored at the 25th Annual Outstanding St. Louis Scientists Awards Thursday, April 4. Ed Coe, professor emeritus, plant sciences, was awarded the 2019 Peter H. Raven Lifetime Achievement Award. Doug Randall, professor emeritus, biochemistry, and director emeritus, Interdisciplinary Plant Group, received the 2019 Trustees Award.

Ed CoeSince its inception in 1856, the Academy has promoted connecting science and the community, and the recognition of the impressive scientists of St. Louis. Each award-winner represents an “extraordinary caliber of expertise,” according to their website. The Academy focuses the region’s attention upon individuals, institutions and corporations known worldwide for their scientific contributions to research, industry and quality of life. In every category, preference is given to candidates who also have a record of excellence in communicating with the public, mentoring colleagues, or leadership in the field of science or industry.

The Peter H. Raven Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a distinguished career of service in science, engineering or technology. The research of Coe, pictured at left, has led to numerous, fundamental insights into plant genetics, which have far-reaching impacts on science and society, according to his awards bio.

Doug RandallThe Trustees Award recognizes outstanding contributions in keeping with the Academy of Science mission of promoting the understanding and appreciation of science. Through exceptional leadership and communication, their impact crosses geographic boundaries and enriches private, public and academic sectors. Randall, pictured right, has a highly distinguished career as a pioneering plant biochemist and an influential leader in the advancement of plant science, according to his awards bio.

For more information about the awards and honorees, please visit the Academy’s website.

Gary Stacey Receives 2019 President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence

Gary Stacey, Curator’s Distinguished Professor of Plant Sciences and investigator at the Bond Life Sciences Center, has received the 2019 President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence. Each year, the UM System President’s Awards are presented on behalf of President Mun Choi to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System. These highly competitive awards recognize faculty who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the University. From April to November, President’s Award recipients will be recognized at the Board of Curators meeting on their university campus, as well as at a faculty awards event hosted at each campus. The Sustained Excellence Award recognizes faculty for distinguished career-long, sustained excellence in scholarship, research or creativity, for a period of 15 or more years. According to the award site, Stacey’s impact is felt throughout the UM System, as well as on national and international stages. Learn more about his contributions at the university, state, national and international level on the awards site.

Research on College Students’ Healthy Food Consumption Nominated for Four Awards

Hospitality management master’s student Yidan Huang and adviser Dr. Pei Liu, assistant professor, were recently recognized for their research. Their work, titled “An Evaluation of College Students’ Healthy Food Consumption Behaviors,” was nominated for four best paper awards by the Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, and Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing at the recent 24th Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality & Tourism. The conference was held in Houston in January.

Bryan Garton Named Distinguished Alumnus

Bryan Garton, senior associate dean for academic programs, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University in early March. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes those who have brought distinction to themselves and the college at large through their participation, commitment and leadership. Garton received his Ph.D. in agricultural education from The Ohio State University in 1993. Learn more about the award and winners online.

Scott Brown and Shibu Jose Complete Prestigious LEAD21 Program

Scott Brown and Shibu Jose were among the 79 individuals completing the LEAD21 leadership-development program. This group of distinguished individuals represents land-grant institutions and their strategic partners from across the nation. Over the course of the past year, these individuals have met regularly with their peers, both in-person and virtually, to enhance their personal leadership capacity. The graduation was held at the culmination of the third in-person session, where the focus was on organizational leadership through collaboration, communication and leading change.

The primary purpose of LEAD21 is to develop leaders in land-grant institutions and their strategic partners who link research, academics and extension who can to lead more effectively in an increasingly complex environment, either in their current positions or future leadership positions.

Goals of LEAD21 are to enhance application of skills and knowledge across a set of nine leadership competencies, to develop a network of peer leaders to enhance personal leadership practice, collaboration and diversity of perspective and to develop and implement an individual’s leadership development process.

For more information about LEAD21, visit